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Editorial: Short takes on smart legislative restraint and dumb judicial misjudgment

Editorial: Short takes on smart legislative restraint and dumb judicial misjudgment

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Rush Limbaugh Day? No thanks

The Missouri Legislature gets a lot of well-earned criticism from this newspaper because, well, state lawmakers have a penchant for putting boneheaded ideas into writing and submitting them as bills. Exhibit A this session was a proposal to create Rush Limbaugh Day in honor of the late conservative radio provocateur. Lots of Missourians reminded the GOP-controlled Legislature that Limbaugh hardly deserved any such honor. He denigrated women and pushed far too many race buttons. We’ve listed his many offenses repeatedly in this space, so they don’t need repeating.

The point is, lawmakers recognized a bad bill when they saw it. They smartly opted not to approve it for Gov. Mike Parson’s signature. Parson is probably grateful that the Legislature saved him from what would certainly have been major political discomfort, regardless of whether he signed it.

Enough with the recounts

Sane Republicans in Arizona have finally declared: Enough is enough, declaring that the audit of the 2020 presidential election in Maricopa County is a sham. Bill Gates, the vice chairman of the Maricopa Board of Supervisors (and not the Microsoft founder), expressed his frustrations with the ongoing audit from the 2020 election and said, “It’s time to say enough is enough.”

“It is time to push back on the big lie,” Gates added, that former President Donald Trump’s reelection was stolen by Democrats. In fact, he lost by 7 million votes nationally and lost Arizona by 10,457 votes. Gates insisted that it was Republicans’ responsibility to stop this foolishness since they were the ones who started it.

Other Arizona Republicans have spoken out publicly in opposition to the mythmaking that led to the recount, saying it had embarrassed their state and that the party didn’t need to embrace the fantasy Trump was peddling.

More Republicans across the country need to step up, for the sake of their party’s survival, to make similar enough-is-enough declarations and start rebuilding trust with voters. It shouldn’t be regarded as courageous just to speak the truth, but that is the sorry state of things in today’s Republican Party.

Lawyer’s harsh language goes overboard

Few can forget the bare-chested guy with the horned hat whose bizarre chants echoed through the Senate chamber during the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. His name is Jacob Chansley, the self-declared “QAnon Shaman,” and he appears to be someone in need of psychological counseling. His attorney, Missouri’s own Albert Watkins, decided to make a combination publicity stunt and defense strategy by making fun of Chansley’s disabilities. Bad move.

Watkins, of Clayton, told Talking Points Memo on Tuesday that his client and other accused Capitol rioters “were uniquely vulnerable to being misled by the former president.” Watkins, himself no stranger to controversy, continued with a string of shockingly offensive slurs like “f--ing short-bus people” and “f--ing retarded” to describe the Capitol rioters.

In a comment to Insider, Watkins acknowledged his statements were “politically incorrect” but said there was a reason and purpose behind his decision to use them. He told the Post-Dispatch that his words were carefully chosen to “literally make people’s jaws drop in disgust.”

He succeeded — in making himself the focal point of national ridicule and disgust.

A judge who badly misjudged

Black Lives Matter protesters in North Carolina alleged a man tried to run them down with his car. The alleged assailant, it turns out, is an appellate judge. As The Fayetteville Observer reported, North Carolina Court of Appeals Judge John M. Tyson, a conservative Republican, has been summoned by a criminal court in his own county to answer an allegation of assault with a deadly weapon. A Fayetteville woman claims the judge tried to hit her with his car during a May 7 Black Lives Matter protest.

Video of the incident shows an SUV, allegedly driven by Tyson, rolling through an area that had been cordoned off from traffic and driving near protesters. It’s unclear from the video how close the vehicle was, but two of the protesters subsequently alleged they had to jump out of the way of the car.

What reportedly is clear in the video is that no one was impeding or surrounding the car — yet Tyson subsequently called 911 and claimed that they had. It’s unclear whether false reporting is among the potential charges against him.

Viral stupidity

Rep. Doug Lamborn, R–Colo., allegedly flouted pandemic restrictions for his staff, forcing in-person work, mocking employees who wore masks and telling them, “I don’t care about you guys getting it.” Now the congressman is being sued by one of those staffers. The allegations come in a lawsuit filed in the District of Columbia by Brandon Pope, a former Lamborn staffer.

Pope claims that when he pushed back at Lamborn’s “reckless and dangerous approach” to the pandemic, he was fired for it. (Lamborn’s office denied to Politico that was the reason for Pope’s dismissal.)

The lawsuit paints a portrait of a congressman deeply ensconced in the obtuse pandemic denial that afflicted his party from the top down, even after the virus started ravaging his office. It claims that even after three staffers came down with the coronavirus, and others were showing symptoms, the congressman still resisted precautions.

The suit also claims Lamborn ordered those afflicted not to tell anyone about their illnesses in order to hide it from the media. Now, appropriately, he has more to worry about than bad publicity.

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